Freshman Emily Balmert is that player.
Despite tough weather conditions that both ended second round play after only nine holes and caused the cancellation of the third round,
Balmert was the wire-to-wire leader, finishing the weekend with a score of 115. The Crimson finished second as a team.
“The weather was so bad, you couldn’t go out there expecting to shoot a good score, [so] you had to go out there and really focus on each shot,” Balmert said. “Maybe because of the conditions I focused more than I usually do, so my score came out better than it usually does. I guess some days all your good shots come together into one good round.”
Balmert shot a 76 in round one and a 39 for the first nine holes of the second round before play was cancelled, and finished three shots ahead of Yale’s Cindy Shin to take the individual medal.
The first place finish was the Crimson’s first in the ten-year history of the event and the first ever by a woman not from Princeton or Yale.
“We have a really strong team,” Balmert said. “We have a new way of looking at golf: when you just take it shot by shot, just focus, your scores are better. That’s all I did.”
Particularly impressive is Balmert’s year at Harvard: according to upperclassmen players, freshmen typically struggle in the spring season after taking so many months off in the winter.
Balmert, on the other hand, has shown poise throughout the spring.
After a strong start to the season—Balmert finished ninth and 13th in her first two events—the team knew that its freshmen duo of Balmert and Ali Bode was something special.
“As freshmen you don’t really know what to expect,” said senior captain Jen Cronan in an earlier interview.
“Coming to the Northeast its hard to take many months off golf. Both showed they were solid and consistent.”
Balmert continued to improve, finishing sixth in Harvard’s first place team finish against Dartmouth and Brown April 14-15. In those three events she finished with the second best score for her team.
Balmert’s impressive performance is no surprise to those who watched her performance during the fall season—she finished fourth in the last two events and helped Harvard to an ECAC championship.
“Spring break was fun because I hadn’t touched a club for a few months,” Balmert said. “It was nice to play when there was no pressure. I feel like a lot of it came back really fast. Maybe the time off actually did my game some good.”
The Crimson now faces another break before it travels to North Carolina for the NCAA East Regional May 11th. Balmert hopes to use this time off to continue to improve her game and help her team to another impressive finish.
—Staff writer Madeleine Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.